Thursday, March 25, 2010

Look Who's Here!



It's Pap and he came with a burgundy mini-van full of goodies, chief among them, a slurpee (or drippy?) from Sonic. Gus thought that was fabulous! - In addition to Pap being here and being ready to play with him and read to him for the rest of the week.

We'll get him out fishing some, too.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Barter Beauties




My newest discovery/a-ha experience - some of the really good stuff you have to wait for until you're in your 40th year HINT, HINT - is bartering.
I am so very fortunate and blessed to live among some absolutely amazing artist, who casually act like they are normal human beings punching in to 9-to-5 jobs, when really...they create, C-R-E-A-T-E beautiful things that stop me dead in my tracks with drool dripping from my chin as I take it all in. (Insert a shriek of joy here for further illustration)

Well, needless to say, I want some of that beauty to behold in my own hands, home. I want it, I want it, I want it. (Insert temper tantrum as only 2-year-old can throw them for audio effect here). But the way we live doesn't make many allowances to start up an art collection of big $$$ figures...

In comes (drum roll) bartering. I know our government doesn't like it, but I do. I do, I do, I do (ABBA song of the same title for background here) Thanks to my knitting, my bookkeeping and Jacob's carpentry I am now the very proud - and gushing, I know - owner of a few object-d'art, among them a stunning trio of wood carved tablets by my oh-so-wonderfully-modest-but-so-wildly-talented friend George Peterson (click here to see and drool) who pulled these out of a pile of cast-offs and quickly let go when I snatched them to my bossom. (dont' they look awesome over our slightly too distressed couch? - the couch silently screams for help every time Gus repurposes it as a trampolin but I can't help it so I decorate it).

The fun part is that these tablets are made from some old cheap pressed woodboard cabinet doors that Jacob pulled out of his refuse pile when George needed something to "doodle" on with his chainsaw...all I did for it was knit a pair of mittens...I love this especially every time I look at the tiles...because I did like making those mittens, too

Personally, I think everyone needs one of George's bowls/vessels/sculptures in their's like a much needed hug on a bad day...

The cup (we drink hot and cold beverages from it) is made by a client of Jacob's who also happens to be a very talented pottery artist (this is the place for great pottery, whatever you think of Western North Caroline, we are rich in pottery) for a few hours of making shelving for her, I got a set of six. I love them fiercly, every time I cradle one in my hands I feel sophisticated and special - nothing at Crate&Barrel (and I love C&R) makes me feel quite like matter how artisan or Italian it is in design or origine...

I'm constantly on the lookout for a new bartering opportunity, I have friends who can coax anything out of a little bit of good soil and an old pot, do wonders with bits of wire and a few beads and turn natural flavoring and whole milk into the most delicious gelato...

I am blessed - well, sort of - according to George, I "elevate organization to an artform" and I take that as a compliment coming from him. I do, I do, I do (got the song stuck in your head yet?)
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sun seasons


Ah...the warmth and promise of a season soon to come. Friday was a balmy 65 around here and we spent the day doing summer stuff, down to putting on crocs and filling a basin with water to splash around in. Gus rocked the skate park, coming away with black hands (from the grime on the ramps) and the well-deserved reputation for breaking down new frontiers as he "invented" the head-first down the ramp full-body slide...they are going to call that "doing a Gus" from now on.

The funny thing was how quickly the discovery spreads among the preschool crowd. Gus completed his first slide (me cheering and trying not to spill my coffee) and two 4-year-olds' heads popped up on the ramp next to his. After that "doing a Gus" couldn't be stopped...most of the boys did it and a few of the feisty girls, too.

I got a few testy looks from the more safety-inclined Moms (why are they at the skatepark anyway? The place is a death trap as all the skull and crossbone designs clearly advertise) but the fun was worth it.

We ate lunch at the playground (I ate lunch, Gus shoved in bites as he ran by) then we collapsed for naptime (he into his bed, willingly, me onto my desk chair, unwillingly)

I captured this moment right after naptime as Gus ate his afternoon snack. I had forgotten how much we love our back stoop. We love to sit there and view the trees and the birds in our backyard, sing songs, share snacks. It's all concrete, so that's where I allow Gus to eat freezer pops and other assorted "melty & sticky" foods. It's where I sit with bank statements or the mail, while Gus decides to go inspect the woodpile or give the Jeepster a climbing workout.

It's where we are when the days are warm again and though I won't have as much time this spring or summer to lounge there, I will treasure it every time I get to.

I can't wait.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cabled Beauty




Hard to believe - but this sweater was knitted by my artisan-knitter Mom. It has become one of Gus' favorite going-to-church outfits and we collect the compliments as we move along like flowers in a summer meadow - so many we almost get careless.
Tough she is one of the fastest and most exacting knitters I know, she will readily admitt that she worked hard on it, undoing (that's her real strength, she doesn't mind undoing and redoing until it is just perfect) parts of it - sleeves, I think - several times.
I love looking at it and handling it. It is so bright and so beautiful and just so intricate I can't even begin to think pattern when I look at it, it's just gorgeous in its wholeness.
I took pictures of Gus while we recited (that's what we do now, we read one book until we have it memorized and then recite it to each other ping-ponging back and forth with the parts) "Pigs Love Potatoes" and running his favorite "bagger" (Backhoe in German) around the coffee table...
He is making big steps this month, his feet have outgrown all shoes and are closing in on mine in size, his language skills are breaking down barriers and he is starting to understand multi-step directions...oh, and he is getting really good at time-out (on a chair with an egg timer) because he has had lots of opportunity to practice it.
He is a true, fun 2-year-old.
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Friday, March 12, 2010

A Modern Man


One thing that stuck with me from a recent parenting class, was the speaker's center theme. We raise our children to be independent beings, we ready them for a life without us - as brutal and un-fuzzy as that sounds, it rings true to me. Above all things, I want Gus to be confident and able to strike out on his own, whether that be college or travels abroad or wandering in search of a passion or calling - without me in tow, folding his laundry, scolding him for not washing enough behind the ears (we don't wash enough as is) and serving him his favorite meal of scrambled eggs and pancake just the way he like he likes it.

That may make me sound like a cold-hearted mom, but I do believe that by the time he is ready to go, I'll be ready (and hopefully still able) to pursue some of my own passions and share some good adventures with Jacob. I will show up to be proud whenever Gus does good, but I will not hover or fuss - at least that's what I tell myself now.

So, in pursuit of that greater nobel goal, I scored this beauty of a vintage kitchen set (I may not find and upcycle vintage furniture on craigslist, like my ever-stylish friend Julie see here) but I cruise the local resale stores and now and then I find a diamond in the rough - mostly trashed Disney and KMart remenants.

Case in point, this lovely, well-used but amazingly well-preserved kitchen set that I had to pray and patiently wait for (another mother had put a hold on it). I got the call this morning. $40 later I am the proud owner of it and Gus will be a master cook by the time the Foodnetwork is ready for a pre-teen chef star.

It's his Easter present. I'm giving up chocolate to make up for it.
These two scuffed wooden boxes make me very happy.
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A Good Egg



Is 2 1/2 too young to be a latchkey kid?
The way things are going on the preschool front of things, Gus may be pushing his boundaries and get Momma in trouble with Social Services...we're on the waiting list for the fall semester now (FALL!!!) after languishing on the spring waiting list without a chance...for a smart town like Brevard, convenient, cost-effective and good preschool is hard to come by and the few that fit the bill dole out spots as easily as snooty hostesses give out a good table at a fancy New York restaurant.

Gus is ready to go, ready to have regular interaction with others, ready to play with someone other than his mother. He is ready....and so am I. Ready to have an adult conversation outside of me talking back to NPR on the radio, wearing clothes that do not stretch, roll up or have a drawstring somewhere, ready to wear mascara and earrings, ready to put some product (any product) in my hair and call something other than a quick ponytail a hairdo.

If you haven't heard, I'm getting ready to go back to work and if all works out that will start in the next couple of weeks...depending on how busy Jacob is and how our budget stands, Gus will have to fend for himself (I keep toying with the idea of just calling all grandparents and telling them "yeah, Gus is doing real good home alone..." I figure that would get at least one of them here just as quickly as you can hop in a car or make a flight reservation)

To be fair I'm not looking very hard beyond the traditional church-run preschools...I'm a bit hesitant to find a mother in-home solution, just don't know who to trust and how to test for that, and also I have had a couple of offers already from some mom-friends (who are likely going to be getting a lot of Gus-time before they can say no) who are looking to make a little money.

It will all work out, or else Gus knows how to fry an egg and eat it with gusto almost all by himself!
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Our Daily Bread...


I have loved the King Arthur flour for almost as long as I've lived in the Southeast - and that means something - here flour selections span many paces in the baking aisle and you can get lost among all the colors and claims. Baking bread has always appealed to me - just like milking a cow or making a clay pot - it seems so basic yet necessary, a survival skill that, at least in my mind, rivals rapelling over sheer rock or knowing how to build a snow iglu.

However that makes me no bread baker, I've been struggling with sourdoughs and all other yeasty confections for years and recently had all but given up (my guys are happy with white, fluffy bread from the grocery store anyways) then my friend, Brynn, re-inspired me and I pulled out old recipes and bought a bag of King Arthur flour. While I'm wrestling it out of the grocery bag my eye fell on the back recipes. I'm a bit of a snob, never giving much thought to the fine print of recipes on the back of ingredients I buy (the fact that you are asked to use specific brands of stuff stiffles my creativity...or so I like to think) but this one sounded good plus I have walnuts handy.

Let me tell you, this loaf was easy to make (EASY!!!) and came out smelling and - more importantly - tasting you can see from the picture...I didn't have much time to take a picture, my guys have fallen on it and are carving it up and slathering it with butter and jam.

I guess it makes sense that the guys who make a fine flour like the folks at King Arthur, know what to make with it, huh?

Our Daily Bread, give us today...
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring is in the Air




After all the griping about snow, it's only fair that I post a few shots from today's first really sunny and pleasant day in a very long time. Gus and I spent as much time outside as we could on laundry day and we managed to dry three loads on the line (love the solar dryer, such a cool gadget and completely free to me). When Jacob came home and the sun was still strong in the evening sky we headed back outside for some swinging in the front yard.

I remember Gus barely able to sit up and with his feet only peeking out the leg holes...Jacob couldn't wait to swing didn't wait...I think his head had just stopped whobbling...maybe...anyways, nowadays Gus whobbles and shrieks and the legs dangle and the hair flies and the eyes twinkle - all voluntarily...such a joy to my sore snow-blind eyes...I can't wait for spring to be here...

PS: In case you care just how tall this kid is, he measures 37 inches at 2 1/2, that's positively enormous in my book.
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Southern Snowlands



I never thought I'd be the one to gripe about snow...but I am. As a mother, a skier, a person with errands to run, a creature of comfort...I want it gone and spring to get here...someone pointed out the other day that March really is still a winter month...I wanted to cry right there, snow is fun as long as you can play in it. Here you just make due with it and that is no fun...I want to plant something, wear a T-shirt and no layers, want to ride my bike without having to face a 30-minute mumification process and most of all I want to stop being cold.

Gus is hot-and-cold on snow...he loves it for 20 minutes, then he hates it, because he can't keep his mittens on or his hands out of the snow...he loves to eat it, the greyer and crustier the tastier apparently...he relieshes a good leftover slab of snow wherever it can be found...but he isn't much on throwing a good snowball or building a snowman...probably most likely because his mother isn't much for neither...we either need to move West or the Bahamas, I'm thinking...

I'm still busy bookkeeping for some friends/clients so the posts will be sporadic for a while, count yourself lucky...all I have going for me is griping about snow...
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Another Snow Day



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Wake up, see all the snow. Take Daddy's beeper hostage (to keep him from going on all the emergency calls that come with every snow day). Step outside and try to be excited about all the snow. Too much snow, so step back inside and pout.
Then - thank goodness - have fun playdate with Carston and Elija, complete with Mexican hot chocolate (yum) and popcorn.
This endless snow thing is wearing on all of us.